A homeschooling month in Spain part 1 – Roadtrip to Andalucia

A homeschooling month in Spain

When you homeschool, you have the flexibility to learn what you want, when you want – and where you want. So if you want to take off on a big adventure in the middle of a school term, you can. That’s exactly what we did this winter.

I began planning our 5-week-trip to southern Europe a year ago.  I wanted to give C(11) and J(9) the opportunity to learn a second language and experience a culture different from our own. I chose Spain, because I’d enjoyed an adventure of my own there when I was twenty-two.

We (the children and I) left England in January and returned in March. (Who wouldn’t want to swap England’s wintery skies and bleak landscape for the golden sunshine and vibrant orange trees of southern Spain?)

A homeschooling month in Spain
Car ready to go with all the essentials, like 2 guitars and a giant Lego brick

Pet passports and a Spanish house

Planning the logistics of the trip kept us busy throughout January.

We had to arrange Spanish classes and find accommodation, have our dogs vaccinated against rabies in order to obtain passports for them, plan our route, and buy funny little stickers to stop the headlights of our right-hand-drive car blinding drivers in Spain.

The children enjoyed helping with the preparations, like being taught by the vet how to scan our dogs’ microchips.

A homeschooling month in Spain
Setting off from home

Planning our route

First we had to decide how to cross to mainland Europe. Initially I’d planned to take the car on the the Eurotunnel train from Dover to Calais (the shortest distance between Britain and France) and then drive through France to Spain.

But then I compared the 22 hours’ driving that would involve with the 9 hours if we took a ferry all the way to northern Spain. The ferry won – I like audiobooks, but not that much.

Plus the ferry had a cute little cinema where we watched Night At The Museum 3 in seats that gently swayed as the ship rolled down the Bay of Biscay. It was a bit like being in a  4D theatre at DisneyWorld (a little too much, in fact, when we watched Exodus on the return trip and the ship lurched alarmingly as the Red Sea came thundering down on the Egyptians).

A homeschooling month in Spain
On the ferry to Spain

After two nights on board ship, our first glimpse of Spain was the snow-capped mountains of Santander set against the beautiful pink-grey light of dawn.

A homeschooling month in Spain
Disembarking in Spain – Santander at dawn

We made two overnight stops on our journey south, at Salamanca and Cáceres.

A homeschooling month in Spain
Our route to the other side of the continent

The weather in Salamanca wasn’t very different from the rain we’d left behind, but we knew we weren’t in England anymore when a fellow dog-walker commented on the ‘mal tiempo’. No one in England would bother commenting on damp, grey weather in January!

A homeschooling month in Spain
At the park in Salamanca
A homeschooling month in Spain
Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor, which the children said reminded them of St Marks Square in Venice

Next day we drove over mountains and across plains to Cáceres, a beautiful city which still shows off its Roman roots.  We could tell we were further south by the milder air – I was gleefully shedding layers by the hour – and by the orange trees among which C(11), J(9) and the dogs played parkour, running off the energy they’d stored up sitting in the car.

 

{30 second video – free-running among the orange trees}

A homeschooling month in Spain
Exploring the old (Roman) quarter of Cáceres

Audiobooks

As well as the gorgeous scenery, a couple of excellent audiobooks kept us entertained on our long drive.

One was a hilarious history of Britain which the kids listened to again repeatedly on their own devices for the next few weeks. It’s an adult book but if you’re interested in the title, let me know in a comment.

The second was Cosmic, an off-the-wall, laugh-out-loud family listen by Frank Cotterell-Boyce, who is probably our favourite author at the moment.

Are we there yet? Yes!

On Saturday evening – four days after we’d left England – we arrived in El Puerto de Santa María, and began to get acquainted with the house that was to be our home for the next month.

A homeschooling month in Spain
Our Spanish home. “Er, what are we doing now, then?”

The first thing we did was head straight to the beach to bask in the sunset.

A homeschooling month in Spain
El Puerto de Santa María at sunset

See also A Homeschooling Month in Spain – Part 2.

* * *

I’m appreciatively linking up here:

Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop 25

History & Geography Meme at All Things Beautiful

Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

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37 thoughts on “A homeschooling month in Spain part 1 – Roadtrip to Andalucia

  1. Awesome! I’ve been looking forward to reading about your trip, and this first post already exceeds my expectations! I think you’ve made a very good decision to take the ferry to northern Spain rather than to drive through France. By the time you are done with the highway tolls and the long drive in France, you would have been exhausted when you reach Spain. Looks like a very good start of your month-long adventure. Looking forward to the subsequent posts!

    1. You are very kind, Hwee – thank you!

      Yes, I think I definitely made the right decision re the ferry. In the end we could have made it down to El Puerto in a couple of day, but because the crossing was brought forward, we arrived in Santander a lot earlier than planned. In any case, we enjoyed our adventures en route!

  2. Ohmy, we loved your psot. The boys and I poured over the pics, the map and the video!!! we love it. They’ve never been to Europe and hubby and I were only there once in ’96…never to spain tho ( or the UK for that matter!)

    Post again soon—we missyou!!! So happy things are going well for you. Enjoy ypur trip, Lucinda and tell the kids we loved their pics!

    1. Thank you so much Chris – I love the thought of you guys looking at our photos and reading about our trip! It almost feels like you were along with us! I feel the same when I read about your adventures over there. The joys of vicarious, virtual travel!

  3. ¡Fantástico! Gracias por compartir y por inspirame. I want to hear about the language learning aspect too! I will be anxiously waiting to hear all the details. It sounds like you guys had a marvelous adventure.

    1. LOL, Marie! I really was happy to read in your post about black being the colour of ancestors. 😀
      And thank you – I’ve had a lovely Mothers’ Day.

    1. Hello Laura, 3 years in Granada? I’m envious now! Last night I was reading my diary from my year in Granada (it’s in Spanish so good practice). I really didn’t want to come home! I’d love to go back for longer. Just need to figure out how my husband can work from Spain…

  4. Lucinda,

    I feel like I’m sharing your adventure by reading your post and looking at your photos. Thank you!

    I once went to Santander by ferry from the south of England. It was during my third year of university. We went to Spain for a botany field trip. A long time before the departure date, I told the organiser that I’d be travelling on an Australian passport. Would I need a visa? I was told no. But when we got to the ferry, of course I did need that visa. Everyone else caught the ferry while I travelled back home. The next day I had to go to London to get the visa, and then it was back to the ferry to catch up with my uni friends. By the time I made it to Spain, I only had a couple of days there, and most of that was spent travelling. So far for so little time! I’m so glad to hear your trip went to plan!

    1. Sue – oh my goodness, what a story! I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you, having to say goodbye to all your friends and travel home (to North Wales?!) alone. You must have been so cross with the organiser. I don’t suppose you would go back to Santander in a hurry!

      Thank you, though, for sharing our trip. It’s good to have you along!

  5. Yikes! I haven’t been getting your updates in my inbox…and I missed you! I love and appreciate your heart for homeschooling! Great job ninja mommy!

  6. “Such Fun” … Oh how I wish we could do this. It’s just simply too far around this side of the world to do things like that. Maybe we need to emigrate for a year or two … dreams are free right! Can’t wait for the next installment, I am living vicariously though you right now.

    1. Meanwhile visiting New Zealand is high on my bucket list but like you say… we’re SO far away from each other! I’d love to take the kids before they leave home. Better start planning (and saving!).

  7. you did it… As I am waiting and waiting to read more about your trip, I said to myself: “enough of waiting to hear about, it is time to be doing something about it!” I still will wait to hear about your trip to Spain, but in the meantime, I am planning our 3 weeks road trip vacation to Canada! If you can go to another country and learn another language with two kids and two dogs, I surely can go to a neighboring country with my two little ones!
    Thank you so much for inspiring me. 🙂

    1. Silvana, your trip sounds so exciting – wow! I can’t wait to read about it and see your pics! And thank you for the nudge… I have been away from blogging for a long time but funnily enough I am just finishing up my second Spain post. It should be up by the end of the week. 🙂
      I would love to go to Canada. And to explore so much of the US, come to think of it. And Mexico… So many places, so little time! 😀

  8. Hi. I enjoyed your posts about Homeschooling in Spain and plan to do something similar next summer (2016). In the interim, I am interested in finding out what the title of the audio book about British history is. Also, any other audio books in Spanish or English you might recommend. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Frances, Thank you for your kind words. Your plans sound exciting. Planning foreign trips is my favourite hobby, alongside learning new languages!

      The audiobook is John O’Farrell’s An Utterly Impartial History of Britain. As I said in the post, it’s not a kids book and it does contain the odd swear word and some ‘adult’ references but my 10 and 11 year olds loved it and listen to it over and over.

      I have lots of other audiobook recommendations, but may I ask how old your children are? (I couldn’t see easily from your blog.) Mine are all English, but I’d welcome any Spanish tips if you have them!

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